Royal Albert Hall, Kensington
“It’s hard to believe that in this very room they used to have gladiators fighting to the death,” exclaims Metronomy main-man Joe Mount. It’s not true, of course, but it’s an entertaining thought, and Mount has become quite the entertainer since his hermit days of writing and producing for this particular project. In the vast, ornately decorated space of the Royal Albert Hall, he is in his element. Along with his trio of musicians – long-time member Oscar Cash on sax, keys and backing vocals, drummer Anna Prior and bassist Gbenga Adelekan – Mount makes such groovesome music that the audience dance around their seats. Even people in the second and third balconies are dancing, despite the threatening plummet.
As soon as those solitary bass lines of ‘Heartbreaker’ kick in people rise like a wave; the front row stand first and the others quickly follow, out of necessity and desire. Although it’s not one of their poppier tracks, Metronomy have a knack for combining whirring, melancholic synths with fast-paced beats – as in ‘On Dancefloors’– which means even their sadder songs move you physically, as well as emotionally.
The London (by way of Brighton and Devon) foursome are also a band known for their quirkiness. Behind them hangs four crudely painted portraits that stare creepily into the crowd, as the lights they wear – the mainstay of their live show – flash rhythmically with the odd beats of the midi saxophone-filled ‘The End of You Too’. In this setting everything sounds crisp and booming, especially the unfussy but resonant drums of recent single ‘The Bay’ and the erratic blips and thumps of ‘My Heart Rate Rapid’, which they speed up to dazzling effect.
As the sweetly subtle ‘The Look’ starts, Cash is rolled out on a keyboard that Mount describes as looking “a little bit like a car”, while playing the opening lines. Other stunts include an opening quartet who play renditions of Metronomy tracks, and during ‘Corinne’ former bassist Gabriel Stebbing riffs with his old band on the steps between the aisles.
There’s so much going on it’s difficult to contain any excitement, which is clear from the amount of stamping after the closing ‘Some Written’ that demands an encore. Returning with the quartet, Metronomy satiate listeners with new single ‘Everything Goes My Way’ and ‘Radio Ladio’ and leave to a packed hall shouting “R-A-D-I-OOOHH”. It’s a blinding show.
By D K Goldstein
Originally published in issue 32 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. October 2011.